By contrast, the area above the canyon offers opportunities to fish floating line as well as sinking line presentations. This is partially because these fish have begun to slow down and adjust their migratory progression due to the obstacles and conditions within the river’s fresh water environment. In doing so, they begin to re-acquire some of their more “trout like” instincts and when water conditions are favorable they will rise to waked dry flies. This represents both the most difficult and rewarding way to entice these magnificent fish. And I love it. Many of the fish here still have sea lice on them and exhibit similar blistering hot characteristics of the fish below the canyon but anglers get to review and use a few more pages of the play book here.
The first rule of dry fly fishing: Remove sink tip. A good friend of mine likes to say, “I don’t bow hunt when rifle season is open” when speaking of sinking line as opposed to floating line presentations. To attempt to define what “sport” is or means is to begin a traverse a very slippery slope. But to some fly anglers how we catch fish is more, or at least as, important to us than how many fish we catch. Isn’t that why we pick up a fly rod in the first place? Doing so might let us learn more about the fish we are after, or at least observe some of the more random acts of nature on display from the given species in the upper regions of the water column. No matter what your preferences are for swinging presentations, BC West has the water and the bases covered.
The week has been very productive and the conditions have been as close to ideal as they can be in steelhead country. Here on the lower river the steelhead have been somewhat elusive as of late, and rightfully so when surrounded by thick schools of virtually every species of salmon. The water is dropping and clearing rapidly as our week comes to a close and this just might be what’s needed to give pause to and slow these fish down a little bit. My radio crackles to life with the voice of young Andrew upriver. “Hey, you might want to get up here. I’ve hooked 3 and landed 2 in the last 30 minutes.” Taxi!!!
In a few minutes I’m standing thigh deep in “Tony’s” run trying to hit the far bank 100+ feet away, where the water is moving so fast a reach mend is the only way to keep the line from being ripped out of the slot before the fly ever has the chance to fish. Oh yea, and it’s blowing from every direction at 20+ with gusts that rip hood and hat away like dried leaves at the working end of a turbo-charged leaf blower. But that last cast looks like it has a chance and as it finally reaches the deepest and slowest portion of the swing the rod bucks and lurches violently with the power of a new arrival to the tail of the pool. The hook set is delivered and the fish sets the reel into motion as 50 feet of line disappears from it instantly. Suddenly the line stops as it hooks onto something from my sleeve. This is a disaster because a nanosecond later the fish abruptly separates itself forever from the 15 pound leader. What?!?!
The Dean River is a dream that has come true. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being awed by this place and these amazing fish, but the next time I come here every button on every coat and shirt sleeve will be deliberately missing from my wardrobe.